Romania is one of the poorest countries in Europe, with 14 per cent of the population living below the poverty line.
The government has few resources to spare for deafblind children. Currently only three per cent of the deafblind population receives any help.
When Sense International (Romania) started in 1999 deafblindness was unrecognised and there were no services. Children were often misdiagnosed and hidden away in bleak institutions.
Since then, there has been gradual but impressive progress. Deafblindness was legally recognised in Romania in 2006 thanks to Sense International’s campaigning. As a result of this, much-needed services for deafblind people are growing.
“For the courage they have given to me and for all the hopes that they infused in my heart I would like to thank Sense International (Romania).”
Mother of a deafblind child
It is vital that deafblind children are recognised, assessed and receive specialist help as early as possible.
- Sense International played a key role in setting up a neonatal screening programme at four maternity units. Since then, over 50,000 babies have had hearing and vision screening - and babies identified as deafblind can start to get help.
- These newborns can now receive help at three Early Intervention Centres – where they receive a specialist rehabilitation programme from a range of skilled professionals.
- We have coordinated the development of an Early Intervention Curriculum for the rehabilitation of deafblind children, which has recently been approved and endorsed by the Ministry of National Education.
Sense International offers deafblind children the chance to be educated, with trained teachers using specialist methods and techniques.
- We convinced the Romanian government that deafblind children can be educated - by initially setting up two deafblind special education units and demonstrating effective teaching methods.
- We ensured that education legislation in Romania makes provision for deafblind children – and as a result 42 special education units for deafblind children have now been established.
- We have trained more than 80 teachers, 11 of whom have become National Trainers who can pass on their expertise to others.
- We have published the Callier-Azusa scales, an internationally recognised method of assessing deafblind children, so that the method can be used by teachers in Romania.
Campaigning and advocacy
As well as lobbying the Romanian government to give full legal recognition to deafblindness in 2006, we were also able to persuade them that deafblind children could, and should, be educated:
- We guaranteed through continued advocacy efforts, that a recent Education Act stipulates that deafblind / MSI children should be taught in classes of no more than four pupils.
- We have coordinated the development of the National Education Curriculum for deafblind / MSI learners.
For more information about the campaigning work we're doing across Sense International visit our Campaigns section.
Our new goals
We are determined to build upon the success of our early intervention and education programmes.
- At the moment, when deafblind young people leave school they have few options – and often become housebound and dependent. We are piloting a new programme which will help deafblind young people gain greater independence, develop work skills and have the chance to hold down a job.
- We will be working in partnership with special schools and government departments in Bucharest, Galati and Iasi to select and train - in the first instance - 21 deafblind young adults.
Deafblind International 16th World Conference
In May 2015 Sense International Romania helped to host the Deafblind International 16th World Conference in Bucharest.
Sense International (Romania)
Blv. Timisoara 27
Bl. D, Sc. B, Et. 5, Ap. 23
First published: Thursday 27 June 2013
Last updated: Friday 21 April 2017